New Year’s Resolutions

I have never made New Year’s resolutions. I suspect that I think too much and I know that I am not going to wake up on any January 1 and be a substantially different person who could suddenly achieve everything I could not in the previous year. I mean seriously, I could resolve to lose weight or exercise more but I would fail. Miserably. I suspect most people are unable to meet their resolutions and then just feel miserable about themselves. Here is the thing, we as human beings are incapable of wholesale change. We do not suddenly become different people because of an arbitrary date on a calendar.

A blog posting has been circulating for a bit: 30 things to stop doing to yourself is a great list of things we can stop doing and treat ourselves better. There are some great things there like: “Stop putting your own needs on the back burner.” I am infamous for this. I have am starting to realize that I need to live differently or my body rebels. Self-care for me is imperative or I cannot take care of anyone else. I also need to surround myself with people who care about what I need. I am fortunate to have people in my life who do care about me and show it in myriad ways. Number 17 also has importance for me: “Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.” Living with a chronic illness that can rear its head at inopportune moments and which causes me a lot of pain and fatigue, it is very easy to complain and not push myself. Instead, I try to remember that on most days it does get better once I am up and going. I also need to take some steps to mitigate some of the effects of my ulcerative colitis.[1] What little control I have, I must exercise it.

I have a really bad urge/need to constantly explain myself to others (number 20 on the list). I have reverted to this a lot in the last year given the hell on earth I endured this year. I must stop. It makes me look petty and defensive. It is completely unnecessary as I am very good at my job and I just need to believe it.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I am forever saying things are fine when they are not (number 25 on the list). I used to joke that I had to schedule my breakdown or that there was no time for my crisis. I don’t do that as much anymore. I am trying to learn to value how I feel. I am setting boundaries much more freely now. Now, if I can just extend that to my family of origin.

Where is this all going you ask? Well, given that I don’t believe humans are capable of wholesale change how do we make changes. I believe we do it incrementally. I came across this blog and it makes great sense. Selecting 3 words that will guide your life in the next year is a great way to make some small changes that will eventually add up. Here are the words I have chosen for 2012: Reduce, Listen, Harmony.

What do the words mean to me:


I want to reduce all sorts of things. Back to the ulcerative colitis, I want to reduce my dependence on pain medications that cause fatigue. This has been underway for sometime and I have been successful. I am now taking over 60% less pain medication than I did a year ago. I am hoping that further reductions will reduce my fatigue. I want to reduce many things in 2012. I may blog about some other ‘reductions’ as the year goes on.


I am a horrible listener. I have a habit of thinking that I know what people are going to say and then tuning out. I am also hoping that if I develop a habit of listening more carefully I will be less defensive. I pledge to listen more to others and myself.


I am hoping to have more time where I feel good about my world. I want to incorporate much more self-care into my life. I believe that becoming more harmonious with the world around me and not fighting against everything will help me feel better. Part of this for me will be withdrawing from spending too much time on the computer. I have enjoyed getting back in touch with crocheting and the almost meditative state it can put me in. I really must reduce the stress in my life as my body is rebelling.

What about you? Do you make resolutions?

[1] More on that later.

iTunes Match

What is it?

iTunes Match is a new service from Apple. iTunes Match makes your digital library of music available in the Cloud. It facilitates easy sharing between all of your computers and devices.

How does it work?

Once you turn it on, iTunes will scan your library. If your music is available on iTunes then it will immediately be available to you. If some of your music is not on iTunes, iTunes Match will upload it to the Cloud.

Why should I care?

You should care for several reasons. iTunes Match is the first, easy to use, backup plan for iTunes. Many of us have several hundred gigabytes of music with no back ups. If you have ever lost your music library and had to re-rip all of your CDs or had to re-purchase your music you will be all over this!

Another great feature is iTunes will match your music with higher bit rate, DRM-free[1] versions. If your library consists of illegally downloaded copies you can replace them with clean copies. It is a little bit of work but who cares.[2] It is so worth it if you have crackly versions of songs that don’t sound great.

That’s all great but how much does it cost?

Of course, Apple is not giving this away. In Canada it costs $27.99 per year to have iTunes Match active. I think it is a great value for the money even as a backup tool. Plus it is a completely passive system, in that it requires nothing from you except the initial act of turning it on and then paying your money. If your computer crashes you can then download everything you own again.

So how do I get it?

It is so easy to turn it on. Open iTunes and go to the iTunes store and go to the ‘store’ menu. Then select turn on iTunes Match. It is that easy!

If you have questions put them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!


[1] DRM=Digital Rights Management – this is the system that limits what you can do with your music like only burning it 5 times etc.

[2] Essentially you have to ferret out those songs, delete them, and then re-download them.


Every year I am deluded into thinking Christmas will be better this year with my family. If we can just find that perfect gift or cook the perfect meal everything will flow smoothly. Yet every year I am disappointed. Sometimes we can point to a certain incident where someone drank too much or was out of control.

Everyone seems to hold it together until dinner. This year we thought everything would be fine as my sister was not going to be here for dinner (for my regular readers you will remember that my sister completely destroyed dinner last year with her temper tantrum. So it was my mother who flew off complaining that I did not brown the chicken and that it looked horrible. She then refused to eat any except a tiny piece off the wing.

Those of you who have ever been to dinner at our house will know that I cook a mean roast chicken dinner. My chickens are always good. And the chicken last night was no exception. We can always point to reasons why something happen. After 46 years, I am not sure the excuses matter to me anymore.

The ironic thing about all of this is that my mother always wants a ‘Norman Rockwell’ christmas. It has never happened and it never will. This makes me very sad for her. She has never learned to roll with life. Everything and everyone must do exactly as she wants, when she wants but she never tells us what this is. Instead she leaves us to guess and get it wrong.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘revelations’ edition

  • I have been quite absent from my blog as of late. It all started because I decided to crochet some presents for holiday season. I have made an intricate crochet piece and 13 very long scarves! I have also tried my hand at 2 afghans neither of which worked out yet. What I have discovered is that I find crocheting very relaxing. I have been crocheting while watching TV and I find it is almost meditative for me. I am feeling so much less stressed. The other thing I really like is that I can be productive while relaxing. I am now spending about 2-3 hours less per day on the computer.
  • We have been entertaining Maya the Maltese for the last month. She is going to my mother at Christmas. She decided she really wanted another dog. We have found her the perfect dog – she is a young adult, female who likes to play. She came already house broken. We had her spayed, microchipped and vaccinated. She will be great for my mother. She is also a great watchdog! She is making all of us mental though. She barks indiscrimantely, particularly in the middle of the night. She is hyper and omnipresent. She seems to try to walk on the backs of my calves. She does have her cute moments though!
  • We have been having some struggles with Bella. She has a hyper thyroid which, in spite being on a high dose of tapezol. We did blood work, which showed that she has cancer as well. She is 16 years old so we decided not to do any further investigation. The biggest problem was that she was not using her litterbox. With a little thought, we moved it into the living room. I took the lid off and I put her in there. She then used it and there was much rejoicing. She has continued to use it now for almost 2 weeks. At this point we are focusing on her quality of life. She is doing quite well right now.
  • Everyone else is doing well. There was some concern about Sienna as she developed a lump. We were all pretty sure it was a fatty lipoma and after 2 fine-needle aspirations it was confirmed that it was a fatty lump.
  • In political observations, I have to say that I hate the sound of Christy Clark’s voice as much as I hated Gordo’s. The face may have changed but the message is still the same and it is all lies if you ask me. Clark is every bit as mean-spirited as Gordon. Her call for cameras to be in the courtrooms when alleged rioters are prosecuted is cruel. It is not only going to humiliate the alleged suspects but also witnesses who may not want their names and faces broadcasted to the larger community. Her comments about CLBC are lame and there is no way she is going to fix anything. I really had dared to hope for more.

The Raw-Feeding Debate

My mother has decided that she would like another dog. Her previous dog passed away a couple of weeks ago due to old age. As she asked, we found her a young female Maltese. We have since had her to the vet for shots and a spay. Almost immediately a discussion ensued about what to feed little Maya the Princess. My mother’s initial response was that she was not going to feed Maya raw no matter what,

Being at Casa de Shihtzustaff, Maya has been raw. She loves it. There was no way we could get her to eat her crap, extruded kibble when raw is on the menu here. Then my mother decided to pick up a book on Maltese dogs. Apparently it opens with ‘your puppy was not born in a cornfield.’ I love this book already! She is happily coming along the road to raw feeding. I told her that she could buy frozen, ground raw that is just as easy to feed as canned food.

As I am learning more about raw feeding I am even more convinced about the appropriateness of raw feeding. I recently saw the video below about how dogs who are fed kibble are in a slight state of dehydration for their entire lives. One can only imagine the stress that would place on a pet’s body. While meat is 70% moisture, dry food is just 12%. Dry food also places an extra burden on a pet’s digestive system as it must pull water to reconstitute the food to make it bioavailable. Because the food is dehydrated and extruded at a very high temperature almost all of the nutritional value is completely gone.

I have sent my mother the video. I hope it cements her decision to feed little Maya the Princess raw food!